Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) has been chosen to receive LIRT 2020 Innovation in Instruction Award

For Immediate Release
Wed, 03/25/2020


Danielle Ponton

Program Manager for Round Tables

American Library Association


CHICAGO — The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) of the American Library Association is pleased to announce that the 2020 Innovation in Instruction Award will be presented to the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL). Created to recognize a library that demonstrates innovation in support of information literacy and instruction, this year’s award recognizes The Teacher Lab course, Brooklyn Public Library’s effort to connect library resources with as many teachers as possible.

Developed by Amy Mikel, BPL’s Coordinator of School Outreach, The Teacher Lab is a free, self-paced online course that introduces fundamental library, research and information literacy skills to K-12 educators and guides them to a rich variety of resources for use in their classrooms. The course features foundational library skills, such as navigating a library collection and using the online catalog, and builds to more advanced topics, such as finding primary sources in an archive, working with databases, using Google and Wikipedia as research tools, citation, and evaluating sources. The course culminates in the creation of an annotated bibliography. Since the course launched in July 2017, more than 2,000 teachers and school librarians from more than 20 states and Canada have enrolled. More than 250 graduates have earned 12 hours of New York State-certified credit, applicable towards their teaching license requirements. Developed in partnership with teachers and accredited through the New York State Education Department as well as the Department of Education, it was found by the Awards Committee to be an outstanding example of how libraries can reach beyond their walls to build productive and mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals responsible for education and information literacy within our communities.

Mikel, the developer of The Teacher Lab, shared the following statement upon learning of the award: “I live in Brooklyn. It's striking how diverse the communities served by Brooklyn Public Library are, covering an amazing range of socioeconomic groups, ethnicities, languages, education levels, English language literacy, and every characteristic in between.  By creating this train-the-trainer style of openly available instructional program, Brooklyn Public Library has created a program that would be useful to every community they serve, regardless of their particular demographics.  It's an excellent use of library knowledge and resources to elevate the community as a whole.”  

The emphasis on free access to the course was another factor in the selection of this program for the LIRT Innovation in Instruction Award. There is no charge for teachers, librarians or even parents or caregivers engaging in home schooling, to take the course. This means that information literacy skill support is available to any educator with access to an internet connection and a desire to expand their teaching toolkit.

The Library Instruction Round Table was started in 1977 with the intent to bring together librarians who provide library instruction across all types of libraries–academic, public, school, and special. 2020 marks the seventh year the Innovation in Instruction Award has been awarded. The Brooklyn Public Library will be presented with a $1,000 cash prize and a plaque commemorating the award.

Find out more about LIRT, its mission, and the awards.

The LIRT Innovation in Instruction Awards Subcommittee included Emilia Marcyk of Michigan State University (chair), Melissa Ann Fraser-Arnott of the Library of Parliament, Yolanda Hood of the University of Wyoming, and Lore Guilmartin of the Pratt Institute.